10 months ago

The alienated teens

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Shoolgoing boys and girls are committing suicide in greater number than members of other age groups, a recent study says. Done by a non-government youth-focused social organisation, Achol Foundation, the study has analysed the circumstances of the suicides as reported in some 100 plus newspapers and online news portals between January and August this year and come up with some findings that are concerning. In eight months, the study period, some 361 students from both schools and colleges/universities committed suicide. Of them, more than 47 per cent are school students. Obviously, they are mostly in their adolescence, a phase of physical and mental growth that takes place between the age of 10 and 19. In the process of a child's brain growth, adolescence is when its (brain's) second and final phase of 'growth spurt' occurs. It is a time in the lives of young people when they are most sensitive to their experiences. And as they are transitioning to their adulthood, they need to have more insight into what they are experiencing. So, it is a crucial period in their lives when they are in need of guidance through caring adult interaction. Proper education and work opportunities should also be available to them during this period. These are important because at this phase the brain is shaped-not in the figurative sense of the term, shape, but physically-by the ideas they receive and the experiences they go through. So, the brain circuitry that finds no further use dies out. Understandably, this is the time to learn new skills and develop lifelong habits. However, these are about the brain chemistry that controls the adolescents' behaviour. If the family environment in which a boy or a girl   grows up is not responsive to their emotional needs, or is very demanding, or one of rejection, or worse, even abusive, the young person in question may think of escaping the situation through suicide. This can happen because the young person lacks the necessary insights to resolve her/his crisis in other ways than resorting to ultimate self-negation. It is not only the family, the wrong environments in the schools or the neighbourhoods in which a young person grows up can also be instrumental in her or his being self-destructive. Shockingly, schoolgirls, according to the study, have been found to be nearly twice as prone to committing suicide as the boys. Actually, out of 361 students suicide cases studied, 214 were girls, while 147 were boys. And close to 47 per cent of the school students committing suicide were in a mental state, the study categorised in Bangla as 'aviman', which may be translated in English as 'being upset due to rejection, or hurt pride'. Whatever that might be in terms of orthodox psychology, it still points to how sensitive those victims of suicide were to the uncaring adults who mattered in their lives. Sadly, in this era of communication explosion, especially with the advent of the social media, the children are getting less and less communicative with their parents or other guardians as they most of the time remain electronically engaged with their peers or even unknown people.  This is quite a new kind of experience the young boys and girls are going through. Their adult guardians are also not immune from what may be termed 'social media addiction'. 

But what it all boils down to is that the communication gap between the teenage schoolboys and girls and their adult guardians is widening day by day. To address the issue, what the parents/other adult guardians should first do is positively interact more with their adolescent boys and girls. And the rest will follow.


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